No. 7/7 Stanford Closes Road Swing Saturday At Arizona
Feb. 15, 2008
No. 7/7 Stanford Cardinal (20-4, 9-3 Pac-10)
- AT -
Arizona Wildcats (16-8, 6-5 Pac-10)
KZSU 90.1 FM (PxP: Ben Spielberg)
The Opening Tip
No. 7/7 Stanford (20-4, 9-3 Pac-10) travels to Tucson on Saturday afternoon for a matchup against Arizona (16-8, 6-5 Pac-10). The Cardinal will be hoping to earn a split of this weekend's road trip after coming off a 72-68 overtime loss to Arizona State on Thursday night. Stanford has not lost back-to-back games all season long. The Cardinal currently stands in second place in the conference standings, a half-game behind Pac-10 leader UCLA (9-2).
Saturday's game can be heard live on KNTS 1220 AM and Stanford's official athletics website, www.gostanford.com. Dave Flemming handles play-by-play duties while John Platz provides color commentary. KZSU 90.1 FM also provides coverage with Ben Spielberg (play-by-play). The contest will also be televised nationally on ABC, with Brent Musberger (play-by-play) and Steve Lavin (analyst).
Arizona, which is coming off an 83-73 victory on Thursday night, checks in at 16-8 overall and 6-5 in conference play. The Wildcats have won five of their last seven overall, including a season-best four-game winning streak to close out the month of January. Arizona, 11-3 on its home court, averages 73.2 points per game and has made 48.8-percent from the field and 39.4-percent from three-point territory. Keep an eye on: Jerryd Bayless (20.7 ppg, 48-105 three-pointers, 87 assists), Chase Budinger (17.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 53-144 three-pointers) and Jordan Hill (13.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 60.1-percent field goals).
Stanford All-Time vs. Arizona
Arizona owns a 48-26 all-time advantage in the series, which dates back to the 1937-38 campaign. Prior to Stanford's 56-52 win at home back on Jan. 17, the Wildcats had won six in a row and seven of the last 10 meetings. Close games have been the norm, with 15 of the last 17 contests decided by 10 points or less. Stanford's last victory in Tucson came back on Jan. 10, 2004, in the form of an 82-72 decision. Arizona swept the season series last year, winning 85-79 at home and escaping with an 85-80 overtime victory at Maples Pavilion in the regular season finale.
Who To Watch Against Arizona
Lawrence Hill has performed well, averaging 10.0 points per game on 48.9-percent (23-47) shooting from the field in six contests. Brook Lopez is averaging 19.0 points and 7.6 rebounds in three contests while making 22-45 (48.8-percent) from the field. In seven career games, Taj Finger is averaging 5.8 points and 4.5 rebounds off the bench. And don't forget about Kenny Brown, who torched Arizona for 22 points on 9-15 shooting (including four triples) in an overtime thriller last year.
Twins Supply The Offense
Brook and Robin Lopez accounted for almost 70-percent of Stanford's scoring in Thursday's 72-68 overtime loss at Arizona State. Interestingly enough, Thursday's contest represented the first time both players scored at least 15 points in the same game. Brook and Robin have both reached double-figure scoring in the same game seven different times overall.
Stanford has not experienced a shortage of scorers in recent years but Brook Lopez has an opportunity to accomplish an impressive feat against Arizona on Saturday. Two nights ago at Arizona State, Lopez reached the 30-point plateau for the second time this year (30 points on 10-17 shooting, 10-13 free throws). The last time Stanford received back-to-back 30-point performances was 1992, when Adam Keefe scored 36 points against Washington on Feb. 27 and followed that with a 33-point effort against Washington State on Mar. 1.
Having already surpassed its win total (18) from all of last year, Stanford recorded the 19th 20-win season in program history with a 71-56 victory over Oregon State on Feb. 9. The Cardinal last reached the 20-win plateau in 2003-04, finishing 30-2. There are six games left in the regular season before the Pac-10 Tournament starts Mar. 12.
Back Among The Top-10
Stanford's current ranking of No. 7 in both national polls is the club's highest mark since the 2003-04 squad was ranked No. 1 late in the year. The Cardinal last vaulted into the top-10 back on Dec. 15, 2003, entering the Associated Press poll at No. 9 on that day after a 5-0 start that included a 64-58 upset of then-No. 1 Kansas. One week later, the Cardinal jumped to No. 6 in the AP poll and cracked the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll at No. 8.
More On The Top-10 Ranking
This year's team is the seventh in school history to achieve a top-10 national ranking in both polls (Associated Press, ESPN/USA Today Coaches) at any point during the year.
Milestones In The Making
One year after establishing the freshman single-season record for blocked shots (73), Robin Lopez is climbing the charts again. With a team-best 53 swats this year, he now ranks fourth all-time in the Cardinal record books with 126. Next up: Matt Haryasz (2002-06) with 130. Meanwhile, Mitch Johnson has dished out a team-best 111 assists this year to increase his career total to 312. That's now good enough for eighth on the all-time list.
The ability to shoot at least 40-percent from the field and hold opponents to under that same mark has been a key to victory for the Cardinal. Stanford is 15-0 when connecting at a 40-percent or better rate overall while holding its foes to a percentage under 40. Furthermore, only eight teams have shot better than 40-percent in a game this year.
Cardinal In The Pac-10, National Statistics
Stanford is the Pac-10 leader in rebounding (40.0 rpg), field-goal percentage defense (38.2), rebounding margin (+10.5) and blocked shots (119). Stanford is also holding foes to 57.5 points per game, good for second in the conference. The Cardinal is also well-represented in the following national categories: rebounding margin (2nd), defense (6th), field-goal percentage defense (12th) and scoring margin (18th).
Share The Ball, Force Mistakes
Two of Stanford's trademarks this year have been the ability to share the basketball and force its opponents into making mistakes. The Cardinal has tallied more assists than its opponent 20 times this year, winning every game when that's the case. The tone was set in the season opener, when Stanford dished out 25 assists that led to 43 buckets in a 111-56 pounding of Harvard. It's been a different story for opponents, as Stanford has forced at least 10 turnovers on 18 different occasions this year.
Defense Clearly The Key To Success
Stanford's outstanding numbers on defense are well-documented but it's worth another look. In addition to allowing just 57.5 points per game and 38.2-percent shooting from the field, the Cardinal has held 16 opponents this year to 60 or points or less. Opposing squads are averaging almost 13 turnovers per game while dishing out less than 10 assists.
Leaders On The Cardinal Side
There have been only five instances this year when the game's leading scorer has not come from the Stanford bench. Only Kyle Weaver (Washington State), O.J. Mayo (USC), Josh Shipp (UCLA), Marcus Hall (Colorado) and Josh Duell (Siena) can claim the distinction of having game-high scoring honors so far this year in games against Stanford. In the rebounding department, only four players (UC Santa Barbara's Chris Devine, Arizona's Jordan Hill, Washington State's Kyle Weaver and Arizona State's Jeff Pendergraph) have grabbed more boards in a single game.
Stanford's work on the glass has been very impressive. The Cardinal is averaging 40.0 boards per game while limiting the opposition to just 29.5 per contest. Six different players are averaging at least 4.0 rebounds per game, led by a 7.8 clip from Brook Lopez. Stanford trails only North Carolina (11.5) in rebounding margin at +10.5 and has only been outrebounded by one opponent (Fresno State) so far. The biggest discrepancy came in the season opener against Harvard, when Stanford held a 50-19 edge.
Brook Lopez Carrying The Cardinal
Since Brook Lopez was cleared to return to NCAA competition on Dec. 17, he has been nothing short of unstoppable. He missed the first nine games after being ruled academically ineligible. In 15 games back, Lopez is averaging 18.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 48.5-percent (96-198) from the field. Lopez, who poured in a career-best 31 points against Washington on Jan. 31 to notch his third double-double of the year, has scored in double-figures in 10 consecutive games and 14 overall.
Robin Lopez Productive In The Post
Robin Lopez has developed into a tremendous rebounder and intimidating defensive presence for the Cardinal. He has scored in double-figures in eight games, including a career-high 24-point performance against Yale on Nov. 20 that featured 12 rebounds and five blocked shots. Lopez has also reached double-digit board totals four times and has been the Cardinal's leading rebounder on six different occasions. He is currently tied for third in scoring (9.2 ppg) and ranks second in rebounding (5.8 rpg). Lopez has also tallied a team-high 53 swats to increase his career total to 126.
Score At The Half
How will the Cardinal fare against an opponent? Enjoy the first 20 minutes then glance at the scoreboard. Stanford is 17-0 when leading at the half and 3-4 when trailing.
Floor Leader Helping In Other Areas
Mitch Johnson is best known for providing his teammates with scoring chances, as evidenced by a team-best 4.6 assists per game clip. Johnson has scored in double-figures four times, including a career-high 16-point outing in a win at California on Jan. 26. He is averaging 6.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game and leads the club with 111 assists.
The offense is also doing its part to the tune of 70.8 points per game. That includes a 111-point outing against Harvard in the season opener, representing the Cardinal's highest point total since a 117-point showing against UC Irvine in 1990. In that game, Stanford led 63-28 at halftime, signaling the first time the Cardinal reached the 60-point mark in any half since scoring 65 during the first half at home against New Hampshire on Dec. 29, 1999.
Stanford is receiving balanced scoring from its entire roster. Starters, reserves, it doesn't matter- everyone is getting into the act. Seven of the 12 players are averaging at least 5.0 points per game. Stanford has placed at least three different players in double-figure scoring on 11 different occasions this year.